I find these types of studies fascinating because they accomplish what social science research is all about—uncovering the underlying explanations for the “attention-grabbing” headlines we often see in the media. While I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding, it seems that mothers who do not breastfeed are often chastised in the media or public due, in part, to all the research showing the developmental benefits.
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In other words, one of the best things for our babies, in addition to breast milk, is a fully present, healthy mama.
My Breastfeeding Story
I came to this realization after much struggle with breastfeeding myself. My first son had difficulty latching. We met with lactation consultants, hospital staff, etc. but I realized it would probably just take time for him to learn. After about six weeks of nursing every two hours, I hit a physical and psychological wall. I knew I had to get some sort of break, so I asked my husband to take one feeding per night using formula. I had tried pumping but it took multiple sessions to get enough to fill a bottle. We persisted and he ended up doing well with a combination of nursing and formula for the remainder of his infancy.
With my second son, I was prepared for the challenges at least but still hoped that more experience would make it easier. It was not easier, but I did have the hindsight to know that it would all work out okay in the end. With him, I endured six solid weeks of piercing pain when he latched, bleeding nipples and assorted other problems. But, just as I had imagined, it all worked out okay in the end. Once we both got the hang of nursing, he was a champ and did not wean until he was almost two years old.
Breastfeeding is a natural, beautiful part of motherhood, but it can also be a struggle. As with many parts of motherhood, I’ve come to realize that the struggle is also what can add to the beauty. If I had not had these challenges, I might not appreciate so much the joy of seeing my babies grow strong and healthy.
Now, 3 years later, I struggle with toddler tantrums but somewhere down the road I know I will come to appreciate how those struggles led my son to gain maturity and self-control. Again, even in the struggle, there can be the beauty of a child developing.
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